The Rhythm Section

Paramount

Revenge has largely been a male domain in Hollywood, but, lately, there have been plenty of movies featuring female characters seeking to right some very bad wrongs, from Widows to In the Fade to Peppermint. And now there is The Rhythm Section, a new revenge thriller starring Blake Lively, directed by Reed Morano. Unfortunately, this film ultimately provides neither catharsis nor satisfaction.

Lively, who first found fame on the television show Gossip Girl, showed the world that she had a serious side when she turned in a scene-stealing dramatic performance in Ben Affleck’s gritty The Town in 2010. She gets serious and dramatic again in The Rhythm Section, playing Stephanie, a woman who is on a harrowing self-destructive path in the wake of tragedy. We first meet her as a bruised and drug-addicted prostitute on the streets of London, suffering mightily from the emotional trauma of having lost her parents and brother in a plane crash. Into her life comes a journalist (Raza Jaffrey), who tells her the plane didn’t crash by accident, it was actually blown up by a terrorist and he knows who it is. This sets Stephanie on an odyssey to become a full-blown assassin, set on tracking down and eliminating every person involved in the bombing, all by herself.

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My 2020 Oscar Nominations Reactions

The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards were announced yesterday morning. While they didn’t hold too many surprises, there were some things that jumped out at me.

1. My “no guts, no glory” prediction that Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes) would sneak into that fifth Best Actor slot came true! It was a tough prediction, considering Robert De Niro (The Irishman), Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari) and Taron Egerton (Rocketman) were favored to get in, but my heart and my gut said Pryce would snag his first career nom and I was right. He’s so well deserving, not just for this film, but for an entire career. So that’s what made me the happiest.

2. What made me the least happy was seeing Todd Phillips get the fifth slot for Best Director. It’s no secret that I despised Joker as a film, feeling it was not only massively depressing with no character arc, but it also felt, to me, like a total rip-off of other movies. While Joaquin Phoenix’s performance (more on that later) was truly phenomenal, the movie left me quite cold. To see that it led the field with the most nominations (11) was disturbing enough, but when I saw that Phillips got the coveted final Best Director slot over the likes of Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Celine Sciamma (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) or Lulu Wang (The Farewell) was hard to swallow.

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